19 Packers and Falcons Facts to Impress Your Friends
It’s always best to arm yourself with some handy anecdotes heading into any big game, and instead of waiting for the talking heads on your pregame show of choice to recite them for you, why not just read them here? Here’s everything you need to know heading into Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Falcons.
A series built on postseason revenge
The Packers and Falcons met in the regular season and playoffs of the same season in 2002 and 2010. The loser of the regular-season game had revenge in both playoff matchups. Including both the regular season and playoffs, Green Bay has won four of the last five games against Atlanta.
With a win on Sunday, the Packers will trail only Baltimore in postseason road wins since 2006. Currently, the Ravens have won seven road contests while Green Bay and the Giants are tied with five apiece.
Sunday marks Green Bay’s fourth NFC Championship appearance in the past 10 seasons (2007, 2010 and 2014), the most in the NFC over that span. Three of the four contests have been held away from Lambeau Field, which last held an NFC Championship in the 2007 season.
The Falcons and Packers' last trips to the NFC Championship Game were forgettable. Both jumped out to large leads against NFC West foes and eventually fell.
When Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are on offense
Since wide receiver Jordy Nelson exited the Wild Card matchup against the Giants, the Packers have generated 72 points in the 100 or so game minutes in the playoffs against the second- and fifth-ranked scoring defenses during the regular season. Green Bay has scored 30-plus points in back-to-back games in the same postseason for the third time in franchise history (three straight in 1996, two straight in 1966).
One of the best ways to stop a quarterback is to bring pressure. Aaron Rodgers has a 71.8 QBR when pressured this season, the fourth-highest since 2009. Against the Cowboys, he faced pressure 18 times. He went 7 for 14 for 149 yards, including the 36 yard catch to Jared Cook that brought the Packers into field goal position.
Part of Rodgers' success under pressure is his ability to escape the pocket. When compared to the other quarterbacks this postseason, his numbers are incredible:
Packers tight end Jared Cook has been a major part of the Packers success. With him on the field, Rodgers threw 23 touchdown passes and just two interceptions, averaged 2 more yards per attempt and had a QBR nearly 13 points higher than when Cook was on the sidelines.
Those concerned with the status of wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams should take heart in this: Against the Cowboys, the Packers had six players with over 30 receiving yards in a playoff game for the first time in franchise history.
A superb performance against the Cowboys moved Rodgers into further rarified statistical air. The quarterback now holds a postseason passer rating of 100.1 over 15 starts, good for fourth in NFL postseason history. Only Bart Starr (104.8 in 10 starts), Kurt Warner (102.8 in 13 starts) and Drew Brees (100.7 in 11 starts) are ahead of Rodgers. He also joins Joe Montana as the only quarterbacks to have five postseason games with a passer rating over 120.
If the game comes down to a last-second kick, Mason Crosby is fresh off of a heroic performance against the Cowboys. With 56 and 51 yard field goals last week, Crosby now has five of the seven longest FGs in franchise playoff history.
When Matt Ryan and the Falcons are on offense
Atlanta's success this season has been thanks to starting hot. The Falcons have outscored opponents 139-68 in the first quarter.
Defensively, the Packers will be tasked to stop wide receivers Julio Jones and Taylor Gabriel. Julio Jones leads the NFL in yards per route run at 3.10, about 20% higher than A.J. Green.
It's another tall order for the secondary, who struggled against Dallas. Green Bay's two top cornerbacks, Damarious Randall and Ladarius Gunter, allowed passer ratings against the Cowboys of 141.4 and 136.6 respectively. Against Randall and Gunter, the Cowboys caught 12 passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns on 16 targets.
Just as we mentioned above, pressure on the quarterback is a great way to slow a high powered passing attack. Both Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark had big games against the Cowboys, and will be matched up against the Falcons' RG Chris Chester.
Chester, who wears number 65, is one of the game's weakest interior offensive lineman, surrendering more pressures than any other guard in the NFL. He also is the league's second-lowest ranked pass blocker, per Pro Football Focus.
When pressured this season, Matt Ryan’s passer rating us 87.5, a drop of more than 40 points when compared to plays where is not pressured. A passer rating of 87.5 against pressure is right around the league average for all passes, not just under pressure. Ryan's completion percentage also tumbles 25.8 points with extra men rushing, but has yet to throw an interception when under duress during the entire season.
Linebacker Clay Matthews has struggled with injuries for most of the season, but is close to catching a Packers legend. With one sack, Matthews will tie Reggie White for fourth all-time in postseason sacks.